Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai to receive the CMA 2008 Medal of Service

    OTTAWA, Aug. 12 /CNW Telbec/ - Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai, from Edmonton
(Alberta), will receive the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) 2008 Medal of
Service for her long and distinguished record of service to the medical
profession, to medical and research organizations, to Canada's health care
system, and to the care of patients around the world. This former CMA
president has been an inspiration to men and women through her ethical,
innovative and generous contributions to medicine.
    The CMA Medal of Service is awarded to a person who has made an
exceptional and outstanding contribution to the advancement of health care in
    "I was astonished that I had been nominated, let alone selected, as there
are so many deserving people in medicine who provide service above and beyond
what is expected, both to patients and to the profession", said
Dr. Collins-Nakai.
    Born in Pincher Creek, Alta., she earned her medical degree at the
University of Alberta in 1972 and pursued postgraduate study in Edmonton,
Montreal and Boston. After being awarded RCPSC fellowships in pediatrics
(1976) and pediatric cardiology (1977), she began her career at the University
of Alberta as assistant professor of pediatrics and joined the staff of the
University of Alberta Hospitals. In 1979 she established and became director
of the Heritage Pediatric Cardiology Program, where her research interests
included congenital heart disease, epidemiology and cardiac metabolism. As a
pediatric cardiologist she introduced ultrasound of the heart to western
Canada and initiated innovative catheterization procedures. In recent years
she has been a strong advocate for prevention of cardiac disease and for
improvement in the diagnosis and care of women with heart disease.
    Dr. Collins-Nakai was associate professor of pediatrics at the University
of Alberta (1980-88) and professor of pediatrics (1988-2000). She also was
director of the pediatric cardiology training program (1990-93) and associate
dean in the faculty of medicine (1993-96). In 1998 she completed a master's
degree in business administration at the University of Alberta. A long-time
consultant at hospitals in Edmonton and at clinics she established in northern
Alberta, she retired from active practice in 2007. Currently she works
part-time as chief medical officer for Valens Pharma Ltd, and as a consultant
to biotech companies, and as a consultant in health care, post-secondary
education, and research.
    Dr. Collins-Nakai has participated in professional societies at the
local, national and international levels. As committee chair she oversaw the
transformation of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society annual meeting into a
collaboration of 13 professional societies that today is the largest annual
medical meeting in Canada; she subsequently was president of the CCS. She also
headed the Alberta Cardiovascular Society, Alberta Medical Association, and
Inter-American Society of Cardiology. As the president and 4th woman to head
the CMA (2005/06), she proved on the very public and national stage that she
was a passionate advocate for patients, physicians and health care reform.
Currently she is the CMA's representative at the World Medical Association and
has led the effort to create a Child and Youth Health Charter for Canada. A
former director of the Alberta chapter and Canadian governing body of the
Heart and Stroke Foundation, she was influential in changing the way the
foundation supports research in Canada. She chaired the board of governors and
served on the executive and board of trustees of the American College of
Cardiology, and for many years she was Canada's representative on the Global
Heart Forum.
    "Fortunately, I grew up in a family and a community where it was expected
that if you were fortunate, you would give a helping hand to those who tried
but were less fortunate," said Dr. Collins-Nakai. "In Canada, we are very
fortunate indeed, so it is natural - some would say it is an obligation - to
try to give back to the patients and professionals and other communities who
have given us such opportunities."
    She has long been a visionary for improvement of the health care system
and a strong advocate for comprehensive and efficient public health care. In
the mid-1990s she chaired a Health Canada advisory committee on heart disease
in women, and was a member of a federal advisory committee on prevention of
cardiovascular disease in children. In 1996 she was a member of both the
federal advisory committee on the Canada Health Act and a provincial advisory
committee on ethics. Since 1997 she has been an advisor to the Alberta Aids to
Daily Living Program.
    In Alberta she has been a member of the Premier's Commission for Future
Health Care, and the Council on Science and Technology. A strong supporter of
education and science, she has worked to increase research funding in the
province and in Canada. Through her work on the management board of the
Alberta Science and Research Authority, and more recently through consulting
in the biotechnology sector, she has helped to promote knowledge-based
industry in the province.
    A founding member of the governing council of the Canadian Institutes of
Health Research, she also chaired the scientific advisory panel of the
Canadian Coordinating Office for Health Technology Assessment.
    Her honors are as varied as her interests and date back to her teaching
career, when in 1988 she was recipient of the first "Teacher of the Year
Award" presented at the University of Alberta's Pediatric Resident Conference.
She was an editor and advisor to a Health Canada documentary on women and
heart disease that has won two major international awards; she has received
awards for dedicated service from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
and the Department of Pediatrics Faculty; she has been recognized within
Alberta and Canada as a Woman of Vision, Woman of Distinction, YWCA Lifetime
Achievement Award, and Business and Professional Woman of the Year; and in
addition to being named one of Alberta's 100 Physicians of the Century, she
was awarded the Alberta Centennial Medal.
    Dr. Collins-Nakai is also an honorary member of the Mexican Society of
Cardiology and the Federation of Medical Women of Canada; a Master of the
American College of Cardiology; and recipient of the College of Physicians and
Surgeons of Alberta Certificate for Meritorious Service. In 2002 the
International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences presented her with its
Distinguished Achievement Award for promoting cardiovascular education and
research throughout the world.

    Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai is the 38th recipient of the CMA's Medal of
Service. She will receive this award on Aug. 20 at a special ceremony at the
Sheraton Centre in Montreal, QC during the 141st annual meeting of the CMA.

For further information:

For further information: Lucie Boileau, Manager, Media Relations, (613)
731-8610, 1-800-663-7336 ext. 1266, Mobile: (613) 447-0866

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